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June 2007 - Lifestyle Integrity

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27

Jun

Consciousness and Healing

I am just finishing reading Consciousness and Healing. It is encouraging to know that some 67 doctors feel strongly enough about an integral approach to medicine to put such a book together. It doesn’t quite make we want to break my decade long moratorium on paid medical assistance, but I feel good knowing that should the need arise, they will be there.

What I do feel was lacking from this book was any sense of patient responsibility. The bald headed one would probably point out that it is a very democratic approach, in that Democrats always expect the society(LR) to support the individual, while Republicans tend to expect the individual to be a bit more self reliant.

The best approach, of course, is both.

It is an unfortunate result of following a grossly objective (UR), physical, modern, reductionist view, that the potential for any real intersubjective (LL) communication is discounted, taking the bulk of a patients subjective (UL) insights with it.

Translation: Medicine has been so focused on science that it has forgotten that people are complex physical, emotional, thinking, spiritual creatures capable of looking inside of themselves, taking stock, and sharing their insights with a doctor.

This often times means that, never mind diagnosing or healing, people are barely even expected to investigate or be able to relate much of anything about their current condition to the ‘experts’. We are all to blame for the lack of trust that we have infused subjective experience with, but we are not all held responsible for this. The doctors of the world are forced to shoulder an unfair burden. Most physicians have long ago lost any expectations that the patient will have any valuable insights into their own situation. I, for one, can not entirely blame them.

So what I am saying here is that I am committed to being an informed patient…whenever this may be.

Why is it that physicians should be held solely responsible for the diagnoses and subsequent treatment of disease? We know that ‘nonadherence’ to the prescribed course of action is one problem that must be addressed, but how about the patient’s responsibility to ‘know thyself’?

The two(out of 67) chapters that I felt really address true patient responsibility are on The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy recommendations and the following chapter on ‘Sociopolitical Challenges of Integral Medicine. These are a beacon, but I want more.

At what point did it become the medical communities responsibility to probe everything from the depths of ones phyche to the contents of their bowels? Most people have no idea what they put into their bodies or the effects that it is having on them at any given moment. We ignore the food, air, information, hormones and meaning that circulate in and constitute our bodies and then demand that someone we have just met, comprehensively understand and manipulate this system into some sort of relevant harmony…….or face career threatening legal action.

Yes doctors should spend more time with us, and ask us more questions, and have a more comprehensive worldview, but why not fucking demand it? Better yet, inspire it. Why not get started without them?

27

Jun

Embrace – The Beauty of Pain

Take it all in. Dive deep when you know not how the next breathe will come. Keep on pushing when it begins to hurt. Recognize that there is life in pain. In pain we remember that which we have let lie untouched. Feel these things again, for the first time, let the pain penetrate so deep that it will always be in you. For it is when the pain has truly been taken inside, accepted, encouraged, that we realize the message that is wrapped inside of this feeling. It is when we truly learn this message that we are able to release this pain once and for all.

 

We may spend years touching upon a sore spot only to recoil in fear at the first signs of the discomfort that come from contact. By doing so we allow this pain to live and grow and dig its roots deeper and deeper into the very fabric of our bodies. It feeds upon the energies that we hold inside. It will continue to do so as long as we leave it there undisturbed.

 

Please find these roots and dig under them with your fingers. Feel the pain that you have long ignored, subdued, denied. There is life, energy, and love, in, around, and below this pain. The time to dig is now. The pain only grows when left alone, but you are strong right now. You are alive right now. You have the clarity and the will right now. Let me know when later comes because I have only ever experienced right now. Right now this pain can melt away under your gaze. Sit. Be with it. Right now you can take this pain in even deeper in your embrace to a place where it is accepted. Just the very act of recognizing and accepting this pain will allow it to serve its purpose.

 

Pain has purpose. Pain is a signpost. Pain is a gift that you give yourself when something very important is crying out for your attention. You must not turn away now, ever. Embrace your pain as a sign that there is still room for more joy in your life. No matter what you have experienced, there has been potential for more trapped in these feelings long forgotten. You have so much more to give. Every moment you are present I sense you shining brighter and brighter, as layer after layer is peeled away from atop the source.

 

Don’t hesitate a moment longer to feel this pain. For one day it will be gone. It’s power will diminish. The opportunity it presents will be retracted. But it does not leave alone. The innocence that cries out for recognition will either grow up holding your guiding hand or die under the weight of a pain that it could not endure alone. She wants to be strong. She wants to transform this pain with you. But she will not survive in the dark. And if she goes, so much beauty goes with her.

 

Please taste this pain with every cell in your body. Embrace, so that you may let go. Look, so that you never again have to look away. There is so much beauty in even the darkest of rooms, but you must spend time there in order to let your eyes adjust to the light. And when you can see all that is around you, you will be able to find the door, open it, let the warmth pour in, and let your innocence back out into the light.

 

I love you

 

26

Jun

I don’t mind

In my efforts to sit still in meditation and let go I find myself reaching, grasping, for an experience of release. Perhaps you recognize the futility in this.

A couple of years ago I started having an experience while meditating in a group at Antoinette’s house. The experience has deepened as it has occasionally been repeated since then, but I still find it to be rather elusive. Recently, I found myself in this state spontaneously while sitting at my desk. I had sat down to meditate and then allowed myself to be distracted by work, and a little while later I found my self taken over by my Self.

The first time I experienced this state it was largely a physical sensation. At the time I had no words for it, but some told me that it sounded like ‘expansion’. Basically, I would feel my awareness of my gross (yucky) physical body begin to expand. At first I would feel the sensation of being above myself. Later I realized that I was simultaneously feeling below myself. Eventually I came to realize that I could direct my attention and ‘feel’ my ‘subtle’ body in all directions. The more I allowed this to happen the broader my reach.

I dare say I was not contained by the room at times.

So…….this was neat. But, there was something else, a bit of a breakthrough me thinks.

Most of the time. I had the idea that in order to meditate properly I should stop my thinking. This is not quite easy and not quite true. I was always looking for a ‘quite place’, a peacefulness, a calm. A place where my neurotic grasping mind was not in control of Me.

Sometimes I would find myself in what seemed to be such a state. Often times it would be fleeting, sometimes a few seconds, sometimes minutes, often times time is not really applicable (I have no fucking clue how long it has been).

The breakthrough for me was realizing that the thinking had not stopped. My attachment to it had. The sensation was similar to that of looking to my left and seeing my brain, cranking away, fully engaged in the plotting, scheming, planning, analyzing, worrying, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (there were 5 blahs). In much the same way that I could direct my attention to my hand resting on my leg and feel what my hand was feeling I could direct my attention to my mind and check in with what my brain was thinking.

The implications of this are not to be ignored. What exactly is my awareness is if it is not centered in my mind? What am I? Deluded? I think not.

Upon sitting satsang with Loch Kelly, a guru type in NYC, I heard him speak of the Buddhist idea that the mind is often considered to be another one of the senses. The sixth sense if you will. This immediately resonated with me and my experience. That was exactly what went down. I finally got a little perspective on this sense. I finally separated myself from it. Not disassociation, but differentiation, which can lead to integration.

Yippee.

Only now I find myself chasing this always already present state as if I am not already there. It is not something that became true when I became attuned to it. It was always the truth. I simply stopped confusing myself otherwise for a bit. The experience has returned, and I have this constant cognitive awareness of it, but the ability to tap into this state, to relax into this state, this is what I find to be elusive. My association with my thinking mind is so strong that even when made glaringly aware of it I still find myself immersed in it experientially.

Tony, Meg, and Me on the roofdeck in Queens:

25

Jun

Inertia

I am consumed by inertia.
What other forces are there?
Where does will fit in with this?
Is life but a constant reaction of one open system to another?
What is the force that allows me to sit still and decide upon a new course of action?

How much theoretical drivel will one man spew to avoid doing a set of push-ups?

I spent the weekend in Boston. As usual, being away from home means varying degrees of away from my practice. Sometimes I will knock out a few sets of push-ups. Sometimes spontaneous breathing exercises will occur. Occasionally I will set aside and meditate (usually not). My diet certainly turns to shit.

More often than not I do not dedicate time to my practice when in the company of others. Am I that influenced by their inertia? Is my resolve so shallow as to have my tides corrupted by any and all other moons?

Upon returning home I am more often than not reeling in the wake of my slack. It will take me a day or three of incremental efforts to get back in the swing. Inevitably, once I am back in a groove, it becomes self perpetuating. I feel wonderful. My energy levels climb. I feel myself headed in a positive direction and there is a sense of having to merely hold on or maintain momentum. It is this shifting of gears that kills me. The stopping and starting feels like such a drain.

Knowing that being a recluse is not an option it seems as if the only real choice is to have the resolve to carry my practice with me where ever I may go. I learned a couple of years ago that having my yoga mat with my when staying in hotels means that I will practice. Perhaps I need accoutrements, or some sort of proverbial string around my finger.

Talia seems to suggest that if less energy were spent in questioning, I would have no choice but to find my self immersed in action.‘Do or not do, there is no try’

22

Jun

Musical Origins

As my eyes grow narrow, as I bob my head, it’s the music that soothes my soul. When all the books and the friends and the math and everything we’ve been taught to know leave me completely incapable of expressing what it is that I want need and love……I have found much solace in music.

I have seen it as a means to understand, cope, express, and relate many things that got lost between the words that I speak and the thoughts in my head. Even between the thoughts in my head and the emotions; the feelings I experience.

At times music seems to rise out of the depths of me. It comes from somewhere I have never seen or heard of or in any objective sense known to be absolute. But I have no doubt it exists, for I feel its presence. I am its presence. In many ways it is all that is me. It is all that manifests in my words and my actions and so much more that I yearn to be in touch with and share with others. The overwhelming quiet that rings in the silence of the slowest deepest kiss; that screams in the blind frustrated rage of a fist thrown in desperation. Something intrinsic, something universal and divine. Something I know I must find.

And so I look to music. Somehow basic and instinctual, yet capable of so much complexity and seemingly random diversity. A universal bond. Something capable of stirring emotions, sparking desire. So often a way to remember. When there was a pervasive quality to a trip or a night or an era so often it is most comprehensively recalled by the music that decorated its peaks and lows, that permeated even its most quiet moments.

This is Erika:

This is her song ‘Nineteen ‘ recorded at my apartment in Jamaica Plain, MA:

Does it strike anyone else as more than a little bit amazing that I can describe something so personally powerful and then point you towards someone else’s music and know that my point will be just as well illustrated?

22

Jun

ILP

For a few years I have been attempting my own version of what I now call my ILP or Integral Life Practice. Recently though, I have become part of an official ILP group. It appears that, as far as I-I is concerned, NY is only the 2nd place to begin organized ILP groups. Aren’t we special?

So, what is this cult that I have joined? I hear you asking. It’s not a cult, it’s philosophy!

Actually, it’s a group of rather diverse, but also like minded, geeks who are collectively in awe of the possibilities that todays world has to offer and find ourselves in need of a new framework within which to hold it all.

‘For the first time ever we have thousands of years of the world’s history, wisdom, knowledge, traditions, religions, science, philosophy, etc at our fingertips.’

How the fuck do we deal with it?

In steps the bald headed one; Mr Ken Wilber has hijacked the term integral, attached many a splendored gift to it, and rolled it back out into circulation for us all to be confused by.
Truthfully, learning Ken’s integral framework has marked the first time in my life that I have not been overwhelmed.

For as long as I can remember my head has been swimming with possibilities. The world often seemed overwhelming in its intricacies, complexities, problems, delights…..and then the internet!!

But now, as many who have found this work will attest, it is as if my filing system has received a major upgrade. Here I was, prior to finding this framework, creating a million little compartments and sub-categories, never sure how one would interact with the next. Then, when I read Ken’s work, it was as if he had been doing the same thing, only he started a decade or two before me, worked a great deal faster, and had already come up with some really neat terms and categories to fit everything into.

It was like hearing a song on the radio and dropping my mouth in admiration and surprise that someone else had written my lyrics. I was gonna write that!
(Admittedly, this doesn’t happen too often on the radio, but Tool has done this for me)

So, Integral offers an approach. It says little about what not to believe in. There are Christian, Jewish, gay, straight, scientist, psychologist, ecologist, politician, Buddhist, male, female, etc Integrally informed people. Most do not drop any of their beliefs or practices. The amazing thing is the way that they are now able to include more of the worlds wisdom into their worldview, and with greater ease.

Have I lost those of who were only remotely interested in seeing what the hell I was up to? Are you still wondering what these ideas have to do with practice?
In good time my friends. For now…

I offer thee music. (I need to see if I can actually post audio in one of these things)
Here is RAISE. It is an old instrumental piece that I made. Play it Loud!!

This is an ape (not a monkey) that I met in Gibraltar. He stole my water, but we’ll get to that later too.

20

Jun

Introduction to the blogging

Big Brother

Yesterday I had my interview with Big Brother Big Sister of Queens. I am thinking that this will be the main focus of my blog. I have training on July 7th and they should assign me a Little (what they call the little tyke I”ll be teamed with) by August. From this point I am committing 4 hours every 2 weeks for 1 year to this person. He will be a he and he will most likely be between the ages of 8 and 14. After my interview I was told that I will probably be teamed up with a young teenager.

I initially thought that I would like as young a child as possible, but I am now thinking that this was for mostly selfish reasons and that I probably have more to offer an older kid.

The other reason I chose to call this Big Brother is because I work in security installing cameras and access control and the implications of this are obvious. I usually refer to us as Little Brother because we work for private companies, but we’re watching you regardless.

This is a picture of me with avocado on my face: